Sunday, February 15, 2015

Los Angeles Doors Tour Part II

Last year when I was in Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to visit many Doors haunts as possible as chronicled in my post, "Los Angeles Doors Tour". I went to LA again and had the opportunity to continue the tour. In the first part of the Los Angeles Doors Tour I was able to visit a number of locations on Sunset Blvd. as they were close together.

This trip required a good deal more walking as the locations are further west and north. At the end of the Los Angeles Doors Tour I had a list of places I missed and now I covered them all in the second part. Next year I have to visit the Topanga Corral, the inspiration for Roadhouse Blues, Village Recorder Studios, where Jim recorded some of his poetry in December of 1970, 8512 Santa Monica Blvd (for the third time), 8826 Lookout Mountain Ave, where Jim lived with Robby in 1966 and "People are Strange" was written, TTG Studios, where "Waiting for the Sun" was recorded. This will be the first place I visit next year.

Again I need to thank Stephen Davis for his excellent biography, Life, Death, Legend, which contains many addresses to visit. The Doors Tour Series would not possible without his biography. Also, David Dutkowski from, and Rainer Moddemann from, The Doors Quarterly Magazine, The Complete LA Guide for Jim Morrison Fans.

Is everybody in?...

6000 block of Sunset Blvd @ Gower

This plaza was once the location of the Copper Skillet on the corner of Sunset and Gower. The eatery is no longer there. Here Jim ran into Ian Whitcomb in 1967. Whitcomb was an English singer and had a hit record, "You Turn Me On". Whitcomb had a book of poetry Jim recognized and even recited one of the poems from memory.

  6230 Sunset Blvd.

This used to be the Aquarius Theater. The Doors played here in 1968 and 1969. I tried to go inside to take some pictures, but was stopped by security. Funny story on how I got this picture for my blog. I took a picture of this building in roughly from the same spot from across the street. However, I could not find the photo in my library to download. I went to Google and found this image. I chose it because it was similar to the one I took. This image is also from the blog, Dear Old Hollywood, run by Robert Cress. The same Robert Cress who works at Warner Brother Studios and was kind enough to show my wife and I around the lot! 

8171 Sunset Blvd.

In 1967 this billboard displayed the first advertisement for a rock and roll album. It was for the Doors seminal debut, "The Doors".

This is what it looked like back in 1967.

8401 Sunset Blvd.

This used to be the Continental Hyatt House. Jim lived here for a bit and was supposedly was evicted for dangling off the balcony.

8433 Sunset Blvd.

The Original Comedy Store did not exist back in 1967. Back then in was Ciro's, then the Kaleidoscope. The Doors performed here as well.

8826 1/2 Sunset Blvd.
This location has an interesting story...

...corridor leading from Sunset to the courtyard...

I went inside and asked the gentleman who was working if this was the location on May 31, 1969 Jim did a poetry reading to support Norman Mailer's mayoral campaign. He mentioned that occurred in the old theater that was now the bookstore. I thanked him and left. I then returned to take more pictures. The gentleman came out of the bookstore and asked me what I was doing. I paused to think about my answer. I could have told him that it was none of his damn business what I was doing or I was merely taking pictures on public property. I had explained to him when I went into the shop I was researching the Doors. He became angry with me saying, "We are trying to distance ourselves from the Jim Morrison thing." Then he asked me to leave, I did as I had all the pictures I needed and wasn't going to get in an argument with him. So what happened the bookstore wanted to, "distance themselves from the Jim Morrison thing"? Did the owner have a run-in with Jim? Not likely as the bookstore opened in 1998. Do a lot of people stop by to take pictures of this building and simply annoy the owner? It would be interesting to find out why.

8850 Sunset Blvd.

Terner's was one of Jim's favorite liquor stores when performing on the Strip. You will notice on either side of the yellow signs black sections of wall. Those wall are the exterior of the (in)famous bar, The Viper Room. It was here in 1993 where River Phoenix overdosed and Oliver Stone used the exterior as a stand-in for the London Fog for the Doors movie. 

8901 Sunset Blvd.

The world famous Whiskey A Go Go. From Monday, May 23rd, 1966 until Sunday, August 21, 1966 was the short-lived career of the Doors at this venue. According to Life, Death, Legend, The Doors were playing at the London Fog, a few doors down from the Whisky. The club was running out of money and was on the verge of closing. Jim started to chat up Ronnie Haran who handled bookings for the Whisky. She was not sure if she could get them in, but she would try. On May 7, the group was fired after Jim got two drunks to fight with one of the bouncers. By now Ronnie had seen the band and urged the owners of the Whisky to hire them. This is a crucial point in the history of the band. It was on August 10 the President of Elecktra Records, Jac Holzman, saw the band for the first time. Unfortunately he was not impressed! After leaving, Ronnie chased him down and pointed out the long line of kids trying to get in to see this new band. He gave them a another chance and came back to the club for 5 nights in a row just to see The Doors. On August 15, at the bequest of Jac, famed producer Paul Rothchild, arrived in LA to see The Doors. After the set both men made their way backstage to take to offer them a contract. 

I'm not sure if knowing their days at the Whisky were numbered was the catalyst for what happened next. I submit no. On August 21, the band played its first set as a trio as Jim was nowhere to be found. After the set was over, the manager politely reminded Ray the contract stipulates all four members must be present and working. If they wanted to get paid for that night's work they had to find Jim. They drove to the Tropicana Motel where he was living.

8585 Santa Monica Blvd.

This was the location of the Tropicana Motel. It is now a Ramada Plaza. Almost directly across the boulevard was the location of the Palms, one of Jim's favorite bars. The photo below was taken in 2013. 

Unfortunately, sometime between April 2013 and April 2014, the bar has been demolished as seen in the picture below.

They knock on the door. Nothing. They start pounding on the door and hear movement in the room. They starting yelling at Jim to open the door. After a while, the door is opened a crack. The door opened wider and with eyes the size of pizza pans came the words, "…ten thousand mikes…" Jim was referring to the amount of acid he had consumed. A normal(!) LSD trip was around 500 - 600 micrograms (mikes). Considering Jim's tolerance to drugs and urge to "break on through", there was no doubt to his claim. They get him dressed and got back to the Whisky. On the way back to the Whisky, Jim was mumbling his way through Sophocles' Oedipus Rex. By the time they arrive Jim is a little bit more coherent and ready to sing. They started the second set and with 40 minutes to go, Jim wanted to start, "The End". The other members were unsure of Jim's intentions as this was the closing song and there was still more than 30 minutes until… the end. The song had started from 3 minutes, then to 12, and then to 18 (18 minutes is the longest version I have in my library. There could be longer versions out there). Jim began to sing but this time his lyrics were different, something the others had never heard before. Jim had a habit of of spontaneous interjection of lyrics/poetry into the song he was singing. They were dark, sinister, and leading to a very uncomfortable place. The lyrics had hypnotized everyone in the club; people were quiet, not moving, straining to hear what Jim was singing. Up until this point no one in the history of public performing would ever dare to shout out what Jim Morrison, in his LSD saturated brain, had in mind. On the stage in the pictures below that Jim got the band fired from The Whisky with the following lyrics:

"The killer awoke before dawn. He put his boots on."
"He took a face from the ancient gallery and he walked on down the hall."
"He went to the room where his sister lived and then he paid a visit to his brother."
"And then he walked on down the hall. Then he came to a door and looked inside."
"Father? Yes, son? I want to kill you. Mother? I want to…"

The band exploded in a chaotic madness of organ, guitar, and drum signaling the end of the song. Patrons were left standing in complete utter shock over what was screamed from Jim, unsure how to react. The manager of the Whisky was not as impressed and promptly fired the band on the spot.

Going back to the question I asked earlier and the answer no. Jim was too far under the effects of LSD to even fathom how incendiary his lyrics were and what the repercussions would be. Jim didn't think ahead, he just did. This is where his genius shines through. He was fearless beyond reproach and by this fearlessness he was truly free. He had no concept of the future and he knew he was going to die young:
"The future is uncertain and the end is always near"

He partied harder than Caligula, drank more booze than an alcoholic Irishman, got more ass than a toilet seat, and consumed enough drugs to scare a pharmacologist. His "permanent address" was the Doors office and had little in the way of possessions. He was a man completely unencumbered by materialistic accumulations. His "wallet" was comprised on two pieces of cardboard secured with rubber bands. "True to his own spirit" is appropriately inscribed on his tombstone because it was the only mantra James Douglas Morrison ever cared about.

8919 Sunset Blvd.

Former location of the London Fog. This location is important because this is were Jim and Pam connected for the first time and where they were hired as the house band. This was the experience they needed to become a legitimate rock and roll band. It was from here they graduated to the Whisky and then a recording contract with Elektra Records. 

9000 Sunset Blvd.

The 9000 Building. Home to the Door's offices during the 80s and 90s.

9039 Sunset Blvd.

This is the former location of Gazarri's.

1005 N. La Cienega Blvd.

One cannot be walking on the 1000 block of La Cienega Blvd and not take a photo or visit the Alta Cienega. They have a new sign and I believe the graffiti on the window was not there when I visited last.

8512 Santa Monica Blvd.

This is the location where L.A. Woman was recorded. On my last visit, I could only take exterior shots. Since then, it has been converted into a restaurant and I was able to take pictures of the inside. The staff was aware of the significance of the building. I asked if there were any remnants of the Door's presence. Unfortunately its been 42 years since the Doors occupied the premises and it has been remodeled several times. I was able to walk up the stairs to the second level. In my infinite stupidity, I did not not climb nor photograph the other staircase on the left. That staircase was used in promo shots. I'll add it to next year's list!


The insignificant staircase on the right. This leads to the deck and where the Door's offices were located. If you closely at the candle holder on the left, you will notice a picture of Jim wedged in the center. This is only reminder of the Doors presence besides the plaque out in front of the building.

108 N. Sycamore Ave.

This is the apartment where Pam Courson overdosed on April 25, 1974. I tried looking through the front door, but it was completely blacked out. 

2301 N. Highland Ave.

This is the site of their famous concert, Live At The Hollywood Bowl. I will do a separate post on the Bowl itself as it has a very interesting history. 

     First column, fifth name down.

This is the view from about halfway up.

This is view Jim would have had on July 5, 1968.

Here are the actual pants Jim wore that night.


8021 Rothdell Trail

Jim and Pam lived in this house in Laurel Canyon in the fall of 1966. Jim would sit on the balcony and watch people come and go in the Canyon County Store. This inspired the lyrics:

"I see you live on Love Street. There is the store where the creatures meet, I wonder what they do in there…"

Three pictures of the band.

That's how the song Love Street came into existence. The photo above shows the proximity of the store to Jim's home, the building behind the tree with red leaves. This store was frequented by all the famous musicians living in Laurel Canyon including, Mick Jagger, Joni Mitchell, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Neil Young, Frank Zappa, and many others. I started looking into Laurel Canyon and was amazed by the history of its famous musician residents. I will make a separate post at a later date.

1750 Vine St.

This is the famous Capital Records building. The Doors were rejected in October of 1965. 

Bonus photos! These are from 2007. My cousin lives in Venice Beach and I took the time to find this street corner. In Life.Death.Legend, page 92, the author states this address as the new rehearsal/living space for the band in October of 1965.

Based on older photos, I'm guessing the building on the right is where they lived.

Part III coming soon...


  1. Another excellent post, Carlos! Great photos and backstories, plus an awful lot of travel on your part.

    Part III can't come soon enough!